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Not all animals on display warm, cuddly

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Local 4-H’ers know the animals they work with every day aren’t always as cute and cuddly as they might seem.

And sometimes they bite.

Scotchie the rabbit, a loyal pet that is always eager to see his owner when he gets home from school, is touchy about being picked up, kept in a cage for longer periods than he’s used to and being shown at the Johnson County fair.

Carson Florence, a Franklin Community Middle School student, has shown Scotchie for four years. This week, Scotchie won a first-place ribbon in the pet category, and this year will likely be his last in the fair, he said.

“We’ll probably let him retire because he gets so stressed out,” Carson said. “He’s really energetic. He likes to fight and lunge at me, but I don’t mind. He’s also my best friend at the fair.”

Carson and his sister, Emily, a Franklin Community High School ninth-grader, also show chickens at the fair. Heather, a pullet, won a third overall prize.

The children’s mom, Pam Florence, said the experience of showing animals — but especially taking care of them — is good for her kids.

“It really teaches them responsibility,” she said.

Sometimes they have to learn how to cope with a sick or dying animal as well, which teaches them larger lessons about nature. And, with the family’s pullets about to start laying eggs, they also learn about the life cycle, she said.

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